What's one thing that Amsterdam lacks

Drinking tourists and combat cyclists : Amsterdam is worse than Berlin!

Berliners often complain about the many tourists who visit their city. You would appropriate the whole city center while locals feel strange. “Unter den Linden” could soon be renamed “Among the tourists”. But tourists belong to an attractive, cosmopolitan city. Where is the welcoming culture? And: tourists bring money. One would be happy in Bitterfeld or Eisenhüttenstadt. There are no tourists there and hardly any young people. Berlin, on the other hand, is an ideal place for young people - not just their own, but those from all over the world.

In this respect, Berlin is the same as where I live. Amsterdam has been hip and trendy since the sixties. The city is friendly to everyone, it has adapted to the globalized world. The Dutch almost lose their own language. Everything is in English. “I amsterdam” is written in large plastic letters on the Museumplein. The commercialization of many corners pissed off some. And yet it is a privilege to live in such a city, a privilege that you have to share with many.

Berliners should keep that in mind, because they have so much that Amsterdam lacks. For example, space. Also because it is so generous, the united Berlin is the most relaxed city in Europe, a miracle of postmodern world history, born from the narrowness that prevailed on both sides of the Wall before 1989. This is what young people want to experience from everywhere, just as they used to be drawn to the “magical center” of Amsterdam, the drug capital of the free west, where everything was allowed that was otherwise forbidden.

The German capital has four times as many inhabitants as Amsterdam, but is ten times as big. In this large area, the tourist crowds are disappearing. The residents who complain about them do not know what they are talking about. You just have to look at the museums: almost empty. When I drove to the picture gallery on a Saturday, absolute world class, no one was at the counter before me. There is always a queue in Amsterdam, especially at the Van Gogh Museum. Vincent van Gogh is the most overrated artist today, and prices in all of Amsterdam's museums are high.

The cyclists are actually worse in Berlin!

Berlin and Amsterdam have one other thing in common: cyclists - I am one of them in both cities - are allowed to do anything. Like all so-called do-gooders, they are a bit opinionated and do not adhere to traffic rules. This is even more pronounced in Berlin: Here you have to fear that you will be run over from left and right as an innocent pedestrian because cyclists use the Trottoire as a matter of course. In Amsterdam you are allowed to do everything, but not that. As a pedestrian you are much better protected despite the limited space.

Cycling on the crowded streets in Holland is becoming more and more of a war. Hell in Holland these days are the racing cyclists and mopeds who also use the narrow country roads and dykes like highways. Tempo 30 in residential areas has long been only valid for drivers. And in Dutch cities it's getting harder and harder to find a parking space - for your bike!

Berliners should be happy that thanks to their large area they still have the choice of going by car, bicycle or local public transport. The interaction works much better than in other cities - even the few tourists and newcomers do not change that much at first.

And even if it were, would that be that bad? In Amsterdam we are prophesied that the number of tourists will increase tenfold. A nightmare. But a nice one, because wherever tourists go, there has to be paradise. If you have doubts about this, you should choose another city. Or take a vacation. After that, you know how to appreciate your own homeland again.

Our author lives as a historian and freelance journalist in Amsterdam. He writes for “de Volkskrant” and “NRC Handelsblad”. From March to May 2016 he worked as a guest editor at Tagesspiegel, as part of the International Journalist Program (IJP).

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